Harpenden school pitch will encourage girls and under-14s to get into football

PUBLISHED: 09:29 19 September 2018

Headteacher Alan Henshall with Alan Smith, David Clarke and Natasha Dowie at the Roundwood Park School pitch opening. Picture: Steve Davey

Headteacher Alan Henshall with Alan Smith, David Clarke and Natasha Dowie at the Roundwood Park School pitch opening. Picture: Steve Davey

© Steve Davey/stevedavey.com 2018

A new all-weather pitch at a school in Harpenden aims to double the number of girls playing football.

The opening of the new pitch at Roundwood Park School. Picture: Steve DaveyThe opening of the new pitch at Roundwood Park School. Picture: Steve Davey

The third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch was officially opened at Roundwood Park School on Thursday, September 13. Former Arsenal striker Alan Smith attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony alongside England international player Natasha Dowie, Paralympic five-a-side footballer David Clarke and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami.

To fund the pitch, the school received a £500,000 grant from the Premier League and the FA Facilities Fund, allowing them to replace the existing grass pitch, which was unsuitable for football due to poor drainage and the inability to withstand harsh weather conditions.

The new pitch will be used by players from the school as well as Harpenden Colts FC, who operate 60 teams across eight different training venues.

Roundwood Park worked alongside the Football Foundation and Hertfordshire County FA to create a five-year Football Development Plan for the site. More than 1,250 people are expected to take part in sports on the pitch, with 730 new under-14s using the pitch over the next five years and a 240 per cent increase in the number of girls playing football.

The opening of the new pitch at Roundwood Park School. Picture: Steve DaveyThe opening of the new pitch at Roundwood Park School. Picture: Steve Davey

Natasha Dowie, who left Roundwood Park 12 years ago, said: “I hope to see more professional players, both male and female, coming from Roundwood Park.”

David Clarke said he predicted the pitch would be “an incredible success”, and head of PE Mr Hunter said he hoped more girls would be encouraged to play football.

Watford FC Community Sports and Education Trust also plan to use the pitch to deliver weekly sessions for female and disabled football, as well as regular summer holiday coaching and coach education workshops.Roundwood Park School business manager Tony Smith said: “To see the transformation of an old and tired muddy field into a world class facility which we now have the privilege to use is a great achievement not only for the school, but for all of those who have been involved in the process.

“My thanks go to the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, Harpenden Colts FC and all of the parents of Roundwood Park School for making this day possible.”

The opening of the new pitch at Roundwood Park School.. Picture: Steve DaveyThe opening of the new pitch at Roundwood Park School.. Picture: Steve Davey

The opening of the new 3G pitch at Roundwood Park School. Picture: DANNY LOOThe opening of the new 3G pitch at Roundwood Park School. Picture: DANNY LOO

The opening of the new 3G pitch at Roundwood Park School. Picture: DANNY LOOThe opening of the new 3G pitch at Roundwood Park School. Picture: DANNY LOO

Paralympian David Clarke at the opening of the new 3G pitch at Roundwood Park School. Picture: DANNY LOOParalympian David Clarke at the opening of the new 3G pitch at Roundwood Park School. Picture: DANNY LOO

Roundwood Park pupils at the opening of the new 3G pitch at Roundwood Park School. Picture: DANNY LOORoundwood Park pupils at the opening of the new 3G pitch at Roundwood Park School. Picture: DANNY LOO

Paralympian David Clarke at the opening of the new 3G pitch at Roundwood Park School. Picture: DANNY LOOParalympian David Clarke at the opening of the new 3G pitch at Roundwood Park School. Picture: DANNY LOO

Paralympian David Clarke and former England and Arsenal player Alan Smith at the opening of the new 3G pitch at Roundwood Park School. Picture: DANNY LOOParalympian David Clarke and former England and Arsenal player Alan Smith at the opening of the new 3G pitch at Roundwood Park School. Picture: DANNY LOO

Paralympian David Clarke and former England and Arsenal player Alan Smith at the opening of the new 3G pitch at Roundwood Park School. Picture: DANNY LOOParalympian David Clarke and former England and Arsenal player Alan Smith at the opening of the new 3G pitch at Roundwood Park School. Picture: DANNY LOO

Paralympian David Clarke at the opening of the new 3G pitch at Roundwood Park School. Picture: DANNY LOOParalympian David Clarke at the opening of the new 3G pitch at Roundwood Park School. Picture: DANNY LOO

Paralympian David Clarke and former England and Arsenal player Alan Smith at the opening of the new 3G pitch at Roundwood Park School. Picture: DANNY LOOParalympian David Clarke and former England and Arsenal player Alan Smith at the opening of the new 3G pitch at Roundwood Park School. Picture: DANNY LOO

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